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The Internet at Risk Some 12,000 people convened last week i 13031

The Internet at Risk   

        Some 12,000 people convened last week in Tunisia for a United

Nations conference about the Internet. Many delegates want an end to the

U.S. Commerce Department's control over the assignment of Web site

addresses (for example, http://www.washington-%20post.com/ ) and e-mail

accounts (for example, johndoe@aol.com). The delegates' argument is that

unilateral U.S. control over these domain names reflects

no more than the historical accident of the Internet's origins. Why

should the United States continue to control the registration of French

and Chinese Internet addresses? It doesn't control the registration of

French and Chinese cars, whatever Henry Ford's historic role in

democratizing travel was.            The reformers'

argument is attractive in theory and dangerous in practice. In an ideal

world, unilateralism should be avoided. But in an imperfect world,

unilateral solutions that run efficiently can be better than

multilateral ones that 51...            The job of assigning domain names offers huge opportunities for abuse. 52...

controls this function can decide to keep certain types of individuals

or organizations offline (dissidents or opposition political groups, for

example). Or it can allow them on in exchange for large fees. The

striking feature of U.S. oversight of the Internet is that such abuses have not occurred.   

        It's possible that a multilateral overseer of the Internet

might be just as efficient. But the ponderous International

Telecommunication Union, the U.N. body that would be a leading candidate

to take over the domain registry, has a record of resisting innovation -

including the advent of the Internet.            Moreover, a

multilateral domain-registering body would be caught between the

different visions of its members: on the one side, autocratic regimes

such as Saudi Arabia and China that want to restrict access to the

Internet; on the other side, open societies that want low barriers to

entry. These clashes of vision would probably make multilateral

regulation inefficiently political.            You may say that

this is a fair price to pay to uphold the principle of sovereignty. If a

country wants to keep certain users from registering domain names (Nazi

groups, child pornographers, criminals), then perhaps it has a right to

do so. But the clinching argument is that countries can exercise that

sovereignty to a reasonable degree without controlling domain names.

They can order Internet users in their territory to take offensive

material down. They can order their banks or credit card companies to

refuse to process payments to unsavory Web sites based abroad. Indeed,

governments' ample ability to regulate the Internet has already been

demonstrated by some of the countries pushing for reform, such as

authoritarian China. The sovereign nations of the world have no need to

wrest control of the Internet from the United States, because they

already have it.(Adapted from Washington Post, November 21, 2005; A14)Segundo o texto, a escolha de um órgão supervisor multilateral da Internet poderia tornar o registro de domínio

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